By Sgt. 1st Class Justin Hardin
Mobilization Support Brigade
FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — Volunteers from the American Red Cross, Fort Cavazos Garrison Chaplain’s Office and United Service Organizations regularly greet and bid farewell to service members arriving to or leaving Fort Cavazos.
The chance to give back to service members is an opportunity most volunteers do not pass up.
Jesse Thigpen, a retired Army helicopter mechanic, waited only three months before he decided to actively volunteer.
“I’ve been working all my life and I just can’t sit around and not do anything,” Thigpen shared. “I’ve always heard about the Red Cross cause obviously being in the military. So, I thought I’m going to do the Red Cross, the USO or something and give back, that’s what I want to do.”
For Soldiers mobilizing out of Larkin Terminal at Robert Gray Army Airfield at Fort Cavazos, Thigpen and the Red Cross offer hot coffee, tea and an assortment of books, at no cost to the Soldier.
Volunteers with the chaplain’s office offer support in the form of religious material and will even offer to have congregations pray for mobilized Soldiers.
Bonnie Olsen, a volunteer with the Fort Cavazos Garrison Chaplain’s Office, holds up a yellow index card and explains the idea of the prayer card to a room packed with mobilizing units. The idea is to have Soldiers fill out the card with their demographics and religious preferences, or nonreligious preferences, and someone will pray for that Soldier’s safe return as well as the safety and peace of the Soldier’s family stateside.
“Somebody did this for my kids when they went out,” Olsen expressed, “they did three tours in Iraq and three tours in Afghanistan, and this is just a way of giving back and I love what I do.”
The volunteers at Larkin terminal also provide support in other areas. Elder Michael Bosley, also a volunteer with the Fort Cavazos Garrison Chaplain’s Office, volunteers during arriving and departing flights, but he also helps with other needs.
“We also help them with community connections,” Bosley explained, “they serve free meals there and they teach classes. When the interest is there, we teach classes as well.”
Several values connect these volunteers to each other as well as to the mobilizing Soldier, but the one value that is apparent is selfless service.
“I went through this myself,” Thigpen said. “I’ve been overseas several times with the military, and I’ve seen things happen to Soldiers, not always bad things but some things could be improved. So, I thought why don’t I try and help out. So that’s what I do.”
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities, according to the Army Volunteer Corps, located at Fort Cavazos on the second floor of the Shoemaker Center.
Thigpen, Olsen and Bosley have a combined 27 years of volunteer service.
“I’m on an 18-month commitment here to serve the Soldiers at Fort Cavazos,” Bosley shared, “and help the commanders and chaplains and also meet with our members in the area and assist them in whatever capacity that we can in a religious nature.”
For information on volunteer opportunities at Fort Cavazos, contact the Army Volunteer Corps at 254-287-8657.